Statistics and projects in China rail, the modern part of the story

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Last update: October 2006

This page shows a selection of the newest projects in China like new line building, line improvement, development of new locomotives etc. The source is most of the time China Railways magazine, published by the China Academy of Railway Science.

Statistics New lines Other technology projects Summaries of China Rail Magazine Number of steam locomotives in China Rail
Plans from 2006 to 2010

China Rail Statistics

China Railways has on sale a statistics books for 1949 to 2001: CR Facts, order by mail to Chinese Railways Editorial Dept., 2 Daliushulu, Xiwai, Beijing, 100081. (Same building as the Bachmann model shop). The booklet costs USD 10,- including postage. It is issued every year in December.

(Source: China Railways Magazine 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)

1997 1998 1999 2000 increase 2000 vs. 
2001 2005
lengthn of network in km

million person trips 919 930 977 1018 +4.2% 1051

billion passenger-km 352 369 405 441 +9.1% 476
number of speed rise (passenger train pairs) 47 (1.4.97) 80 (1.10.98)

Number of km where speed is raised


average loaded cars per day 77546

76803 +5% 83693 110000
million tons freight shipped 1628 1532 (-5.4%)
1925 2686
billion ton km freight 1304 1266 (-6%)
average freight speed km/h
32.0 32.4 32.6
daily freight loco km 429 430 438 443
daily freight loco ton-km 945000 944000 966000 994000
average freight train tons
2633 2651 2680

Revenue Billion RMB
92,2 99,82 (+8,3%) 53,8 (1st half year) +9.2% 134,6
Freight revenue

27.31(1st half year) +5.6% 68.86
Passenger revenue 26.1 29.13 33.27 18.69 (1st half year) +13.2% (no price increase!) 46.15 

Import/export in Million tons

6.26 / 6.38 +23.4% (+87% vs 1998) 
+26.3% export


2.15 import


1.3 import


0.96 import export +52%

Alataw pass

1.72 import fastest rise, export +95%

Number of railway employees 3342000


Line building in China recently and currently (2001)

In 2001, the total line lenght of China Railways exceeded 70.000 km. 23.000 km were double tracked and 17.000 km electrified. China Railways is the thrid longest railway in the world, and in double tracked and electrified lines it is number 1 in Asia.

Planned railway construction in China during 2001 to 2005: 350 billion RMB investment.

Source: China Daily 2001-6-19.

Planned railway construction in China during 1998 to 2002

Source: Chinese Railways Magazine No. 2 / 1998

Cao Jing, General Director of Planning Department, Ministry of Railways

Total planned investment in railway construction: 250 billion RMB (50 billion annually) (compares to 155.8 billion RMB in 1993-97)

Money is not only for line building and electrification, there are other planned improvements also, including better signaling, centralized control and higher speed.

The following projects are planned (China Railway Magazine 2/2001) (some more described further down):


Electrification in 10th five year plan (2001-2005)

Double tracking: (9th five year plan, some of the projects ocntinued in 10th five year plan)

Double tracking in 10th five year plan:

High speed passenger lines:

New lines (9th five year plan, some of the projects continued in 10th five year plan)

New lines in 10th five year plan

Down under added in Jan 2001: Source: China Railways Magazine No. 2/2000

Korla - Kashi line

Length 975 km, opened to traffic on May 6, 1999. Diesel traction.

Handan - Jinan line

(231,7 km long) opened to traffic (constructed since 1997, accepted in 2002)

Beijing Xi - Huangchun line

(22 km) opened 15 July 1999

Neijiang - Kunming railway:

Yibin - Liupanshui - Hongguo 370 km Start of construction in 1998. Track laying and bridge building on section south of Yibin in June 2000. The new line is has a total of 248 km track length, including 160 bridges and 94 tunnels (68,8% of the line). The actual new line is 77 km long. Height difference is 1378 meters. Ruling grade 23.5 per thousand. The northern section under construction met the southern section at Zhaotong, Yunnan province on Sept. 19, 2001. Total ine has 254 bridges and 160 tunels. To be electric in June 2002.

Electrification of Neijiang - Yibin line

Total length 116 km. Design standard presently single track level II. Capacity is low, Grade 12 in thousand, curve radius down to 300 m. Capacity must increase when the Anbian-Meihuashan section of the Neijiang-Kunming line opens. Yibin - Anbian electrification is also under way. Station length will be 850 m, SS3 locomotives will be used. Investment is 650 million RMB.

Qinhuangdao - Shenyang High Speed passenger line

Length data vary between 407 and 422 km. Design speed 200 km/h, but with possibility for further increase in the future. It ise an electrified double track line for passenger trains only, which is removed from the old line. Station length is 650 m, maximal grade 12 in thousand. Investment cost is 14.78 billion RMB. Project start was 4 August 1999, start of electrification on Oct 16, 2001, opening in 2003. They already talk about extensions to Harbin and Dalian...
The line speed on the line Beijing - Qinhuangdao is increased to 200 km/h also.

Beijing - Shanghai high speed line

Planned during the tenth 5 year plan (until 2004). No details known yet. According to German newspapers in June 2001 the Chinese were checking possibilities to build this line with maglev technology. This line is built in normal railway technology from 2006 to 2012.

Heze - Yanzhou - Shijiusuo line double tracking

Length 449.7 km. Double tracking is done because of an estimated freight volume in 2005 of 27 to 30 Mt. A lot of coal transportation to the harbor Shiyansuo is planned. Technical standard will be level I, max. gradient 4 in thousand. Minimum curve radius 1000 m ordinarily, and 400 m in difficult sections. The line will use diesel locomotives with a max. train weight of 4000 t (DF4B?), which will be increased to 5000t later. Station length will be 1050 m. Investment 5 billion RMB. Project start was April 15, 1999. Completion is planned in 2001.

Xiangfan - Chongqing line: Renovation of Xiangfan - Daxian section

The line has low standard, has suffered from natural disasters and has generally a too low capacity. This will worsen after opening of the Xi'an - Ankang line. The Ankang- Daxian section is 631 km long. Currently is carries about 12 Mt freight and 7 pairs of passenger trains. Estimates for 2005 speak of 12 pairs of passenger trains and 13 Mt freight. The project will increase this (electrified) line's power supply and supply more powerful locomotives. The line has sections with up to 13 in thousand grades and curve radius of 500 to 700 m. Freight load is 4000t. Stations are 850 m long. 950 million RMB are to be invested from December 1999 to 2001.

Electrification of the Waiyang to Fuzhou line

Total length 186 km. Present design capacity 9.2 Mt freight and 10 pairs of passenger trains. This capacity is used. Estimates for 2005 speak of 14 pairs of passenger trains and 12.8 Mt freight. The line is being electrified and the stations are lengthened. The line is a level II single track line. This status will not change. Stations are 750 m long. Trains will be 3500 tons. The investment is 1 billion RMB, project start was August 13, 1999.

Electrification of Zhanyi - Baiguo line

Total length 136 km. It is a level I single track line with 12 in thousand max. grade. Minimum curve radius is 600 m, but in difficult sections Hongguo to Baiguo 400 m and Zhanyi - Hongguo 500 m. Locomotives will be SS4 on Hongguo to Baiguo and SS3 else. Station length will be 650 to 880 m. Investment is 667 million RMB and the project started on Dec 8, 1999. Zhanyi to Hongguo is being newly built!

Renovation of Xining to Golmud line, Railway to Tibet

Length 846 km. Poor state now with natural disasters and other operating problems. Capacity is now saturated. Maximum train weight and speed to be increased. Precautions against natural disasters are part of the project. The line is a state level 1 single track line with a ruling grade of 6 in thousand and 12 in thousand in one section where double traction is used. Locomotive type DF4B. Minimum curve radius 300 m. Station length 650 m, maybe to be extended later to 850 m. Dispatching, which was local, was centralized. Investment 700 million RMB. Project start Dec 8, 1999, completion in 2001.

From June 2001 this line is being extended on its west end towards Lhasa in Tibet. The line was opened on July 1, 2006.

Nanning to Kunming capacity increase

The originally postponed stations are being built from 2002.

Litang - Nanning double tracking (Nengyang - Pingxiang line)

Length 130 km. Freight is now nearly 9 Mt in both directions. The line is a level I line. The project is important for the Nanning-Kunming line. Estimate for 2005 is 18 pairs of passenger trains and 16.2 Mt freight. In addition to the second track, the existing line is to be renovated. Speed shall be raised to 100 km/h and train weight to 3500 t. 95 km from Litang to Funing must be double tracked. Curves will be widened to 600 m and grade reduced to 6 in thousand. New 37 km of single track are to be laid from Funing to Nanning Nan. The sharp curves on the section Funing to Changgangling will be widened. Engines type DF4B are to be used. Station length will be 850 m and train weight 3500 t. Investment 1.57 billion RMB. Construction period from December 1999 to 2001.

Baoji to Lanzhou double tracking.

In 1998 the actual transported freight was 24.29 Mt, in addition to 20 pairs of passenger trains. Estimated for 2005 are 33 Mt freight and 30 passenger train pairs. Designed capacity is 23.34 Mt freight and 20 passenger train pairs. Double tracking will give a capacity of 50 pairs of passenger trains and 60 Mt freight. Passenger train speed will also increase significantly (maybe because waiting for meeting trains will be less?).
The line is 487 km long, including 175 km single track, 14 km double track and 298 km parallel sections. Bridges and tunnels are 21% of the line. Max. grade will be 13 in thousand, min curve radius 400m. Station length will be 850 m, 870 m in sections with double traction. Locomotives will be SS3 (thus, the existing SS1 will maybe be withdrawn?). Max. train weight will be 4000t. Total investment is 10 billion RMB. Project start December 1999, Opening in 2003.

China Railways Magazine number 17 (2/2001) tells also that Lanzhou to Wuwei will be double tracked in the period until 2004 (10th five year plan). (The torturous line over the Wushaoling pass (earlier known as Tianzhu) at 3000 meters altitude was replaced by a new basis tunnel in August 2006).

Sanggendalai to Xilinhaote

This 152 km long new line is built by the Jitong Railway and is discussed under its own page . It was opened on August 1, 2002 with diesel traction (DF4D).

Other new China Rail Projects

(Source: China Railways Magazine 2/2000, 1/2001, 2/2001)

The line from Harbin to Manzhouli is being upgraded for 8 billion Yuan during 2001 to 2005.

Goal for passenger train speed on main lines: 500 km distance with possibility to return same day, 1500 km distance covered in 12 hours, 2000 km distance covered in 24 hours. This speed is to be implemented on a total of 10000 km lines.

Fast freight network between 30 major cities. (Container trains and other high level freight). Container cars for a speed of 120 km/h are being manufactured already.

Axle load increase for freight trains to 25 tons.
There are still problems with freight capacity, part of it aggravated because of the increase in speed of passenger trains. This had led to the plan to introduce 25 tons axle load and 6000 tons freight trains on main lines. 25 tons axle load is possible on the existing main lines and their bridges. With the existing track lenght of 1050 meters in most main line stations, trains cannot be extended beyond 5000 tons without increasing axle loads. Prototype cars have been produced and tested, and we should see a gradual shift to production of new heavy haul cars.

New software systems to track trains, cars, goods and containers online, new systems for ticketing and passenger management, monitoring systems for trunk lines etc.

New systems for online traffic supervision on the most bury trunk lines, especially for the safety.

Development of a locomotive or EMU and cars capable of running 200 to 270 km/h and a tilting train. The motive unit will have the level of international motive units in the 90s. (Class SS8 electric locomotive and DDJ1 EMU). The "Lanjian" EMU (2 Motor cars, 5 trailers) from Zhuzhou has been tested at 235 km/h and runs between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The "Dabaisha" EMU, also 7 cars long,m but only one locomotive, from different factories, has been test run at 223 km/h and runs between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The "Xianfeng" EMU, with distributed driving axles, from PUzhen, has been test run at 250 km/h and also runs between Guagzhou and Shenzhen. China Railways Magazine 2/2002 has an article about EMU and DMU development in China. The trouble with test running these trains is that the loop test track in Beijing only allows 160 km/h. Thus test running above this speed has to be done on real lines in between traffic.

Class SS8 is capable of running at 200 km/h.
Class SS7E built in Datong has a speed of 170 km/h, but Datong works on an engine with 270 km/h speed and AC drive in 2002.

Development of diesel and electric locomotives with AC transmission. (Electric Bo Bo + Bo Bo DJ1, 3 locos built by Siemens, Graz, Austria based on German class 152, 17 built by Zhuzhou). Two engines SS9. DF4DAC 8001 outshopped Dalian 28 June 2000, 4000 HP, traction equipment from Siemens. The first two prototypes are based on the well known DF4D. The numbers are DF4DAC 8001 and 8002. The engines are painted in white, dark blue and red. DF4DJ 0001 is another AC prototype. Beijing 7th February work has outshopped an AC DF7 in 2002.

Ziyang locomotive factory has developed in 2002 a new type pf DF8B engine with AC transmission and 4200 kW. (The normal DF8B is rated at 3680 kW).

System for traffic control and monitoring for high speed lines.

Mechanization of heavy track maintenance on busy main lines. Partly this should be reached by developing Chinese machinery (but as of now MOR is not pleased with the current state of quality and capability of Chinese equipment (China Railways Magazine 2/2000).

A general investment in the development of light rail and subway equipment. Amongst others, the cities of Chongqing, Kunming, Tianjin and Beijing all plan to either renovate, improve, extend or build new light rail and subway systems. The goal is to develop domestically manufactured equipment.

Some Investment Data fra Xinhua, October 2006:

    China's Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun says that in the five years from now to 2010, China will build 19,800 kilometers of new railway lines, modernize 15,000 kilometers of existing railway lines, boost passenger train speed to 200 km per hour with fast trains traveling at more than 300 km an hour, and increase the load of freight trains with a single engine hauling over 5,000 tons.

    Under the railway development plan approved by the Chinese government, every year 4,000 kilometers of new tracks will be laid, 3,000 kilometers of existing tracks electrified, and more fast passenger trains, including the maglev trains, and large capacity freight trains introduced.

    Liu says he hopes that by 2010, China's railway networks will be able to carry 30 percent more passengers and 30 percent more freight to alleviate the heavy demand for railway transportation.

    As a developing country, China relies heavily on railways -- the cheapest means of mass transportation. Statistics show that in China, the energy consumption ratio of transportation by air, road and railways is 11:8:1. So at present, the railways in the country do the transportation of 75 percent of coal, 66 percent of ore, 62 percent of iron and steel, as well as 56 percent of grain.

    China now has 75,000 kilometers of railways, with 6,500 kilometers built in the last five years. China's economy has been developing at an annual rate of more than 9 percent on average, but the length of its railways grows at a 9.5-percent increase in five years.

    "We have been using 6 percent of the world's operational railways to move 23 percent of the total people and freight transported by the world's railway systems each year," Liu says.

    Speed rises

    To increase railway transportation capacity, China has continuously increased the speed of both its passenger and freighttrains. Since 1997, China has raised its train speed for five times, boosting passenger train speed on 22,100 km of tracks to 120 km/hr, on 14,000 km of tracks to 160 km/hr and on 5,370 km of tracks to 200 km/hr. The speed of freight trains on the above-mentioned tracks has also been raised to 120 km/hr.

    Before the speed raises, China's trains used to travel at 60 km/hr.

    Liu says that the fifth speed raising launched in 2004 alone has increased the passenger and freight transportation capacity of China's railway networks by 18.5 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

    China is now preparing for the sixth train speed raising. He Wuhua, chief engineer with the Ministry of Railways, said the target of the sixth speed raising, scheduled to take place this year, is to extend the tracks that accommodate trains running at 200 km/hr by 6,000 kilometers.

    In the next five years, Liu says, China will further raise the speed of passenger trains to 200 km/hr on another 13,000 km of the existing rail tracks, in addition to building dedicated lines to passenger trains. He adds that the speed of freight trains on all tracks will be raised to 120 km/hr by 2010.

    Despite repeated speed raises, the transportation capacity of China's railways still lags far behind the need of the country's booming economy.

    According to statistics released by Chinese Railways Magazine, passenger trains in China provide only 2.41 million seats but sell 3.05 million tickets a day (4.2 million tickets at peak days), leaving many passengers no choice but to stand in the aisles; railway transportation authorities can provide 110,000 freight cars a day, but the nation's daily average demand for freight cars is 280,000, with over 60 percent of the demand left unsatisfied.

In 2010, there are about 5000 km of high speed lines.
China Railways shall have a network of 120.000 km in 2012.

    Dedicated Lines

    To meet the increasing demand for railway transportation, railway planners have called for the building of high-speed dedicated passenger railway lines and the shifting of all freight transportation to the existing tracks.

    In 1999, China started to build its first passenger-train-only railway. The 404-km Qin-Shen railway went into service in 2003, with a designed train speed at 200 km/hr and a rushing speed at 300 km/hr.

    Liu says in the next five years, China will build 9,800 km of dedicated passenger railway lines, or 50 percent of the new lines to be built in the country. Of the 9,800-km dedicated passenger railway lines, 5,457 km will accommodate trains running at a speed above 300 km/hr.

    The Ministry of Railways has announced that it will soon start the construction of a 1,318-km dedicated railway line linking Beijing with Shanghai, which allows trains to run at 350 km per hour.

    Wang Yongping, a spokesman with the Ministry of Railways, says the fast train service to be launched by 2010 will cut train trips between Beijing and Shanghai from current 14 hours to only five hours.

    "The Beijing-Shanghai dedicated passenger line can relieve the existing tracks of the heavy pressure from passenger transportation, thus increasing the freight transport capacity of the existing tracks by 50 million tons a year," says Ji Jialun, a professor with Beijing Transportation University.

    The Chinese government has also approved the construction of a maglev passenger railway between Shanghai and Hangzhou with German technology. Train speed on the 175-km maglev line is expected to reach 450 km/hr, cutting the 2-hour-and-20-minute trip to only 30 minutes. (Other sources tell about the same line in conventional technology).

    Heavy Loading Cars

    To increase the freight transportation capacity of the railways, China will introduce 70-ton freight cars, which carry more goods than the 60-ton freight cars presently in use. (23.5 tons axle load).

    According to the plan of the Ministry of Railways, China will roll out 70-ton cars for general use, 80-ton cars for coal and 100-ton cars for ore, iron and steel in the next five years.

    The adoption of heavy loading freight cars can help reduce the length of a train set, making it possible for existing railway station platforms to accommodate heavy hauling trains.

    "We will produce 1,000 more engines that can pull 5,000 tons of goods and run at 120 km an hour in the next five years," Liu says.

    China's six major railway trunk lines now all have 5,000-ton freight train service. The Ministry of Railways is even running 10,000-ton freight trains on the Da-Qin Railway, with a designed annual transportation capacity of 100 million tons. The line's actual annual transportation volume reached 203 million tons in 2005.

    China will also develop railway container transportation, making 10,000 km of tracks able to accommodate double-deck container transportation, and establishing an annual capacity of 10 million TEUs.

    To realize the planned leap-forward in railway development, Liu says China will invest 1.25 trillion yuan (150 billion U.S. dollars) in the next five years. He adds that the country will mainly rely on domestic technology and manufacturing in railway development, though it also needs to import some key, advanced technologies from abroad.

Number of steam locomotives owned by China Rail

(Source: Lok-Report 7/2001, Florian Schmidt, earlier data from Florian Schmidt, from China Statistical yearbook)

Capacity of locomotive industry in China in 2000: About 1000 locomotives toal, if which 200 electric. In 2002, 450 electric and 1000 diesel engines.

Date 1.1.1996 1.1.1997 1.1.1998 1.1.1999 1.1.2000 1.1.2001 1.1.2002
Steam total 4374 3751 2931 2061 1015 601 276
QJ ? 2537 1893 ? 501 100? ?
JS ? 1220 1031 ? 514 ? ?
JF ? 21 7 ? 0 0 0
Diesel 8282 8944 9583 ? ? ? ?

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